Daniel Buscombe

Biography

Daniel Buscombe received a BSc in Physical Geography from Lancaster University, UK (2003) and a Ph.D in Coastal Geomorphology/Oceanography from Plymouth University, UK (2008). Dan's doctoral thesis was on the morphodynamics and sedimentology of gravel beaches. Dan was a post-doctoral researcher at USGS Santa Cruz, CA, researching sediment dynamics on the inner continental shelf (2008-2009). Dan then completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at Plymouth University studying nearshore sediment transport (2009-2012). Dan's principle interest is in developing novel instrumentation to measure/remotely sense sediment properties, then using this information to help understand contemporary sedimentary systems. Daniel's current research interests are in sedimentology, sediment transport, particle holography, and hydro-acoustics.

 

My research is interdisciplinary in sedimentology, coastal and hydraulic engineering, and geophysics, applying methodologies ranging from field surveys and laboratory analysis to analytical and numerical modeling. Of special interest to me is the remote characterization of sedimentary environments, which includes sensing the properties of flows and particles at rest and in motion, in single and multiphase flows, both terrestrial and subaqueous, by developing and applying novel acoustics and optics instrumentation and computational algorithms

Principally, I measure sediment: what is it made of; what lives in or on it; how it gets picked up by flows of air and water; how it gets deposited into landforms; how these processes evolve in time due to feedback processes; how it gets preserved in the rock record. The properties of sediment (grain size, shape, packing, cohesion, etc) fundamentally control what grows in or on it; how fast and far it moves; how long it stays there. These properties govern the dynamics of air and water turbulence; water turbidity; formation of dunes in deserts, rivers and seas; the attenuation and scattering of light and sound; and landform stability.

Documenting and understanding how sediment properties change in time and space is fundamental to understanding and modeling the hydraulics of open channel flow; the mechanics of sediment transport in water and air; the evolution of landforms; and the distribution of primary producers which support ecosystems of all types. I am intellectually stimulated by the dynamic role of sediments in sediment transport, geomorphology and aquatic habitats, mediated by how sedimentary materials change in space and time. Measuring sediment properties (such as grain size) of a given sample is obviously wellestablished. However, measuring the properties of sediments continuously in time or in space is notoriously difficult, because it precludes physical sampling of the sediment and subsequent laboratory analysis, which is prohibitively time-consuming and expensive, as well as physically and ecologically destructive. Instead, sediment properties need to be remotely sensed. Traditionally, this has imposed severe limits on how sediment properties have been incorporated as a dynamic variable into models and understanding of physical and biological processes, allowing only a ‘static role’ of sedimentary materials as a boundary or context to contemporary earth surface and ecological processes, and the dynamics of environmental change. In reality, sediment is both dependent and independent variable in many of these processes, and should be measured and modelled continuously in time like flows of water and populations of organisms. Understanding these processes requires being able to measure sediments properties at high temporal and spatial resolution and great spatial coverage. Much of my career to date has therefore been devoted to developing instrumentation, computational and analytical tools which allow measurements of sediment at unprecedented scales and resolutions. In the coming years, methods for measuring the reflectance and scattering of light and/or sound to remotely characterize terrestrial and underwater surfaces and infer sediment properties will continue to mature. These techniques have opened up the possibility of mapping sedimentary deposits, surface roughness and depositional sedimentary environments over large areas, and monitoring those areas in time. Compared to a few discrete samples in locations accessed physically, this will provide more fundamental insight into geomorphological and ecological processes, by massively expanding the scope of what time and spatial scales and resolutions can be monitored, and could significantly alter the way in which environmental research is carried out.

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Publications

Sediment optics and acoustics

  • Buscombe, D., Grams, P.E., Kaplinski, M.A., 2014, Characterizing riverbed sediment using high-frequency acoustics 1: Spectral properties of scattering. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - EARTH SURFACE 119, doi:10.1002/2014JF003189.pdf
  • Buscombe, D., Grams, P.E., Kaplinski, M.A., 2014, Characterizing riverbed sediment using high-frequency acoustics 2: Scattering signatures of Colorado River bed sediment in Marble and Grand Canyons. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - EARTH SURFACE 119, doi:10.1002/2014JF003191.pdf
  • Davies, E.J., Buscombe, D., Graham, G.W., Nimmo-Smith, W.A.M., 2015, Evaluating Unsupervised Methods to Size and Classify Suspended Particles using Digital in-line Holography. JOURNAL OF ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANOGRAPHIC TECHNOLOGY 32, 1241 - 1256.pdf
  • Buscombe, D., Grams, P.E., Smith, S., 2015, Automated riverbed sediment classification using low-cost sidescan sonar. JOURNAL OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING, 10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001079, 06015019.pdf
  • Buscombe, D., Conley, D.C., and Nimmo-Smith, W.A.M., in review, Effect of bubbles on acoustic estimates of sand suspensions in the surf zone. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - OCEANS.
  • Buscombe, D., in review, Processing and georeferencing recreational-grade sidescan-sonar data to support the democratization of acoustic imaging in shallow water. LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY: METHODS.

Sediment transport and hydrodynamics

  • Buscombe, D., and Conley, D.C., 2012, Effective Shear Stress of Graded Sediment. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, 48, W05506, doi:10.1029/2010WR010341 pdf
  • Lacy, J.R., Rubin, D.M. and Buscombe, D., 2012, Currents, Drag and Sediment Transport Induced by a Tsunami. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - OCEANS, 117, C09028, doi:10.1029/2012JC007954 pdf
  • Puleo, J., Blenkinsopp, C., Conley, D., Masselink, G., Turner, I., Russell, P., Buscombe, D., Howe, D., Lanckriet, T., McCall, R., and Poate, T., 2013, A Comprehensive Field Study of Swash-Zone Processes, Part 1: Experimental Design with Examples of Hydrodynamic and Sediment Transport Measurements. JOURNAL OF WATERWAY, PORT, COASTAL AND OCEAN ENGINEERING, 140, 29–42. 10.1061/(ASCE)WW.1943-5460.0000210. pdf
  • Buscombe, D., Rubin, D.M., Lacy, J.R., Storlazzi, C., Hatcher, G., Chezar, H., Wyland, R., and Sherwood, C., 2014, Autonomous bed-sediment imaging-systems for revealing temporal variability of grain size. LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY: METHODS, 12, 390 - 406. pdf

Computational sedimentology

  • Buscombe, D., 2008, Estimation of Grain Size Distributions and Associated Parameters from Digital Images of Sediment. SEDIMENTARY GEOLOGY 210, 1-10. pdf
  • Buscombe, D., and Masselink, G., 2009, Grain Size Information from the Statistical Properties of Digital Images of Sediment. SEDIMENTOLOGY 56, 421-438. pdf
  • Warrick, J.A., Rubin, D.M., Ruggiero, P., Harney, J., Draut, A.E., and Buscombe, D., 2009, Cobble Cam: Grain-size Measurements of Sand to Boulder from Digital Photographs and Autocorrelation Analyses. EARTH SURFACE PROCESSES AND LANDFORMS 34, 1811-1821.pdf
  • Buscombe, D., Rubin, D.M., and Warrick, J.A., 2010, Universal Approximation of Grain Size from Images of Non-Cohesive Sediment. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - EARTH SURFACE 115, F02015, doi:10.1029/2009JF001477 pdf
  • Buscombe, D., and Rubin, D.M., 2012, Advances in the Simulation and Automated Measurement of Well-Sorted Granular Material, Part 2: Direct Measures of Particle Properties. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - EARTH SURFACE 117, F02002. doi:10.1029/2011JF001975. pdf
  • Buscombe, D., 2013, Transferable Wavelet Method for Grain Size-Distribution from Images of Sediment Surfaces and Thin Sections, and Other Natural Granular Patterns. SEDIMENTOLOGY, 60: 1709–1732. doi: 10.1111/sed.12049 pdf

Computational geosciences, applied signal processing and stochastic methods

  • Buscombe, D., and Rubin, D.M., 2012, Advances in the Simulation and Automated Measurement of Well-Sorted Granular Material, Part 1: Simulations. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - EARTH SURFACE 117, F02001. doi:10.1029/2011JF001974.pdf
  • Buscombe, D., 2016, Spatially explicit spectral analysis of point clouds and geospatial data. COMPUTERS AND GEOSCIENCES 86, 92-108, 10.1016/j.cageo.2015.10.004.pdf

Fluvial Morphodynamics and Sedimentology

  • Buscombe, D., and Grams, P.E., in prep, Sediment patchiness and sorting on the Colorado River in Marble Canyon. Intended for JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH - EARTH SURFACE.
  • Grams, P.E., Buscombe, D., and others, in prep, Patterns of channel and sandbar morphologic response to sediment evacuation in a debris-fan dominated canyon. Intended for EARTH SURFACE PROCESSES AND LANDFORMS

Coastal Morphodynamics and Sedimentology

  • Buscombe, D., and Masselink, G., 2006, Concepts in Gravel Beach Dynamics. EARTH SCIENCE REVIEWS 79, 33-52. pdf
  • Masselink, G., Buscombe, D., Austin, M.J, O’Hare, T., Russell, P., 2008, Sediment Trend Models Fail to Reproduce Small Scale Sediment Transport Patterns on an Intertidal Beach. SEDIMENTOLOGY 55, 667-687. pdf
  • Buscombe, D., 2003, The Short-Term Morphodynamic Response of a Ridge-and-Runnel System on a Macrotidal Beach: B.Sc. thesis, Lancaster University, UK, 92 p.
  • Buscombe, D., 2008, Morphodynamics, Sediment Dynamics and Sedimentation of a Gravel Beach: Ph.D. dissertation, University of Plymouth, UK, 346 p., pdf
  • Austin, M.J., and Buscombe, D., 2008, Morphological Change and Sediment Dynamics of the Beach Step on a Macrotidal Gravel Beach. MARINE GEOLOGY 249, 167-183. pdf
  • Masselink, G., and Buscombe, D., 2008, Shifting gravel: A case study of Slapton Sands. GEOGRAPHY REVIEW 22 (1), 27-31. pdf
  • Williams, J., Masselink, G., Buscombe, D., Turner, I., Matias, A., Ferreira, O., Meltje, N., Bradbury, A., Albers, T., and Pan, S., 2009, BARDEX (Barrier Dynamics Experiment): Taking the Beach into the Laboratory. JOURNAL OF COASTAL RESEARCH SI 56, 158-162. pdf
  • Williams, J.J., Buscombe, D., Masselink, G., Turner, I., and Swinkels, C., 2012, Barrier Dynamics Experiment (BARDEX): Aims, Design and Procedures. COASTAL ENGINEERING 63, 3-12. doi:10.1016/j.coastaleng.2011.12.009, pdf
  • Cuttler, M., Lowe, R., Falter, J., and Buscombe, D., in review, Estimating the settling velocity of bioclastic sediment from common grain-size analysis techniques. Intended for SEDIMENTOLOGY.

Selected Conference Proceedings

  • Buscombe, D., Austin, M.J., and Masselink, G., 2007, Field observations of step dynamics on a macrotidal gravel beach. In Kraus, N., and Rosati, J., (Eds) Proceedings of Coastal Sediments 2007 (Volume 1), ASCE, USA. pdf
  • Buscombe, D., Masselink, G., and Rubin, D.M., 2008, Granular Properties from Digital Images of Sediment: Implications for Coastal Sediment Transport Modelling. International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE), Hamburg, 2008 pdf
  • Buscombe, D., and Conley, D.C., 2012, Schmidt number of sand suspensions under oscillating-grid turbulence. International Conference on Coastal Engineering, Santander, July 2012.pdf
  • Conley, D.C., Buscombe, D., and Nimmo-Smith, A., 2012, Use of digital holographic cameras to examine the measurement and understanding of sediment suspension in the nearshore. International Conference on Coastal Engineering, Santander, July 2012.pdf

Selected Presentations

  • Coastal Sediments 2007, New Orleans, Field observations of step dynamics on a macrotidal gravel beach. pdf
  • AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec 2007, The relationship between sediment properties and sedimentation patterns on a macrotidal gravel beach over a semi lunar tidal cycle. pdf
  • AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec 2008, The relative importance of cross- and along-shore sediment transport in planform and profile adjustments of a gravel barrier beach: Slapton, Devon, UK. pdf
  • International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE), Hamburg, 2008, Granular Properties from Digital Images of Sediment: Implications for Coastal Sediment Transport Modelling. pdf
  • 9th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, Las Vegas June 2010, An automated and ‘universal’ method for measuring mean grain size from a digital image of sediment. pdf
  • Ocean Sciences, Portland, OR, Feb 2010, Fractional resuspension and sediment flux on a wave-dominated, non-cohesive inner continental shelf: Santa Cruz, California. pdf
  • European Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, 2010, The effect of grain size distribution on fluid-sediment feedback. pdf
  • Particles in Europe, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, 2010, Hourly Measurements of Grain-Size from the Inner Continental Shelf Seabed Using a Fully-Automated, Hydraulically-Controlled Underwater Video Microscope pdf
  • European Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, 2011, Formula for motion threshold per grain size for graded sediments in steady flows. pdf
  • AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec 2011, How do you tell how big something is without direct measurement? Estimating grain size using an image’s spectrum. pdf
  • Ocean Sciences, Salt Lake City, UT, Feb 2012, Co-variation of intertidal morphology, bedforms and grain size on a macrotidal sand beach: Praa Sands, UK. pdf
  • International Conference on Coastal Engineering, Santander, Spain, July 2012, Use of digital holographic cameras to examine the measurement and understanding of sediment suspension in the nearshore. pdf
  • International Conference on Coastal Engineering, Santander, Spain, July 2012, Schmidt number of sand suspensions under oscillating-grid turbulence. pdf
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Dec 2013, Acoustic Scattering by an Heterogeneous River Bed: Relationship to Bathymetry and Implications for Sediment Classification using Multibeam Echosounder Data. pdf
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Dec 2013, Evaluating Unsupervised Methods to Size and Classify Suspended Particles Using Digital Holography. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Dec 2013 (poster). pdf
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Dec 2014, Topographic and acoustic estimates of grain-scale roughness from high-resolution multibeam echo-sounder: Examples from the Colorado River in Marble Canyon. pdf
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, Dec 2015, Addressing scale dependence in roughness and morphometric statistics derived from point cloud data. pdf

Technical Reports

  • Buscombe, D., and Scott, T.M., 2008, Coastal Geomorphology of North Cornwall: St Ives to Trevose Head. Internal report for Wave Hub Impacts on Seabed and Shoreline Processes, University of Plymouth. 170p. pdf
  • Buscombe, D., Williams, J. J., and Masselink, G., 2008, BARDEX (Barrier Dynamics Experiment): experimental procedure, technical information and data report. Technical report for the European Union Hydralab III, 219p.